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Fluoride Kills - Debunked

by Ethan Glover, Sun, Jun 25, 2017 - (Edited) Wed, Jan 10, 2018

Among the worst conspiracy theories of all time has to be the effects of fluoride. It's a government program built to make us all dumb. Fluoride lowers IQ and makes us subservient to big brother government. The answer? Buy expensive distilled water or water filters advertised by scaremongers like Alex Jones.

This meme (to the right, click for a larger version) popped on my Facebook feed recently. I'll admit, I used to buy into this crap. You see some article on the internet that cites what seems like a good source and you believe it. Especially if you're already suspicious of government. But then I started checking sources and looking things up for myself. (Before, like most theorists, I said I did but never followed through.)

There are a lot of issues with this meme. I trust the information about the amount of fluoride in each brand is correct. But the use of that information is disingenuous. Then there's the Phillippe Grandjean quote. And of course the two links at "Jersey Demic" and "Fluoride Alert." (The Fluoride Alert link repeats the numbers given in the meme.) Let's get into each one at a time.

Fluoride in Bottled Water

The original source for the fluoride levels comes from Oral Answers. A blog run by a dentist in Virginia. The specific article on this topic is set up on the following premise. People buy a lot of bottled water despite the cost. As people are turning to it instead of public water, are they still getting the benefits of fluoride? Fluoride helps teeth to become more resistant to cavities. The original author wanted to find out if bottled water contained enough. Not if they contained too much.

But do they contain too much? What is too much? The most fluoride and adult can consume is 10mg per day. I took the average of the PPM in the numbers given by Oral Answers and came to 0.1692 PPM. Meaning, of the top 13 brands of bottled water, they average around 0.1692 PPM of fluoride. For liquids, 1 PPM = 1 mg/L. If water has a 1 PPM concentration of fluoride, 1 liter contains 1 mg of fluoride.

So to get to 10mg of fluoride in the average drinking water, you'd have to drink 59.1 liters in a day. That's near the volume of the average human body. (66 liters.)

And at 10mg, the only issue you'd experience is gastrointestinal discomfort. For lethal doses, you'd need to consume 5-10g of fluoride. That's grams. To get 5g of fluoride from bottled water, you'd need 2,955 liters. That's roughly equal to the volume of paint it would take to cover the outside of the White House.

For children under 6 months? They don't need fluoride supplements. The fluoride in water and other foods is not dangerous at any age. But as you grow older, it's good to start using fluoridated toothpaste and mouthwash.

Philippe Grandjean

But what about this quote associated with the meme? "The effect of each toxicant may seem small, but the combined damage on a population scale can be serious..."

Grandjean has spent a career talking about the combined effects of chemicals on the body. To him, fluoride combined with things like mercury can cause a lot of damage.

Grandjean has never given any supporting evidence to this theory. In past research papers, he has added up the numbers of taking in up to twelve heavy metals at once. In theory, this would be dangerous to young children. But Grandjean has never shown a case in which young children are consuming that many metals.

Conspiracy theorists often point to this study as proof of fluoride toxicity. Over the years, Grandjean has rewritten and republished it. But the scientific community has never accepted it. There is already an overwhelming amount of research that disproves it.

The study shows that in areas with high amounts of fluoride, children have lower IQs. Pretty damning, right? That is until you read the study. (Something theorists never do.)

The exposed groups had access to drinking water with fluoride concentrations up to 11.5 mg/L

This quote from the discussion of the paper is important. The groups with low IQ had concentrations of up to 11.5 mg/L. Compared to the recommended 0.7-1.2 mg/L. That's a huge difference. Including those kinds of outliers kills the whole paper.

The estimated decrease in average IQ associated with fluoride exposure based on our analysis may seem small and may be within the measurement error of IQ testing.

The decrease in IQ is within the measurement of error. Not only are they using outlier scenarios to bump the numbers up. But even with that, Grandjean couldn't get the numbers over the margin of error.

Our review cannot be used to derive an exposure limit, because the actual exposures of the individual children are not known. Misclassification of children in both high- and low-exposure groups may have occurred if the children were drinking water from other sources (e.g., at school or in the field).

The study wasn't controlled. They didn't even know how much fluoride each child was consuming.

There is a reason Grandjean's studies on this topic are not considered valuable. It's bad science. Grandjean shows an obvious bias. He manipulates various numbers to get the results he wants.

Jersey Demic

At the bottom of this meme is a link to the Jersey Demic website. It gives a list of brands to "buy and avoid." Of course, the ones to avoid are those with fluoride. The ones to buy are the ones without. The article states:

Public water products contain fluoride. This is a serious health threat for people's health. Even though many may say that fluoride is healthy for the dental health in humans, according to numerous researches [sic], the contrary has been proved.
Fluoride has a negative effect on the human nervous system. Instead of improving people's health, it harms people's dental health.

The only 'expert' quoted on these claims happened to be Grandjean. And the author couldn't even bother to link to his study. Instead, there are three links at the bottom that look like sources. One links to the HealthMagazine365 homepage. Not any specific article that might act as a source. So nothing there. A second link goes to Full Spike which returns a DNS error. Full Spike is an unused domain that contains nothing.

Third, is a link to WebMD. Finally, something to look at. The WebMD article talks about fluorosis. Which, as it says, occurs with dangerous amounts of fluoride. For children, that's more than 2 PPM. In fact, the article never says to avoid fluoride. It says that in most cases water and fruit juices provide a healthy amount of fluoride for children. As mentioned before, babies don't need supplementation.

A Short Conclusion

We know for a fact that fluoride is great for preventing cavities and gingivitis. It's a good bacteria fighter for teeth. Fluoride is everywhere. Tea, raisins, wine, potatoes, lamb, carrots. But fluoridated water has been a great innovation for dental health.

There are extreme cases, for babies, in which parents should be careful. For example, use fluoride-free toothpaste for children under 6-months. They're already getting enough from water and other foods.

What gets me. What I have to laugh about here; are the adults. The grown adults who not only fear fluoride but think it's a poison. That single study they have that supports their position is about young kids. Even the author can't support his claims about fluoride causing low IQ's in kids.

And here we are. Adults buying expensive non-fluoridated water and filters from Alex Jones, calling themselves "woke."